Extracurricular activities are great for college resumes, but it's important to help your child choose an activity that also helps develop life skills. Theatre classes and acting can develop communication skills and confidence that will serve your child in virtually any career path. These are just a few of the skills developed by those who participate in theatre.
Memory and Vocabulary
Actors who perform on stage have to memorize long blocks of text and the cues for when to start reciting those lines. During rehearsals, they are also given blocking (directions for when and where to move on stage) and more subtle directions about how to perform their role. The language of Shakespeare and other literary plays can also present opportunities for the cast members to expand their vocabularies. While many of the principles of acting technique will be useful in future plays, the bulk of an actors memory is devoted to memorizing lines and blocking directions that will be fresh with each new play. The ability to learn and retain such detailed information will be useful in a student's academic career and in the process of learning skills at any new job.
Language and Communication
The actors must learn their lines and the blocking for where to stand, but there is a lot more that goes into the subtleties of a convincing performance. The most important thing in a live performance is the skill with which the actors portray their characters. Utilitarian lighting or low-budget costumes can be overlooked if the people on stage give a compelling and relatable experience for the audience. Theatre helps students learn to appreciate all the nuances of body language and inflection. A script can be read poorly in an infinite number of ways, whether the reader sounds tired or loud or flippant. A great performance can also take an infinite number of different forms, but the student of acting leans how to speak with relatable confidence. Communication skills are useful in job interviews and throughout the course of many careers, whether a person needs to communicate with clients or coworkers.
Movement and Body Awareness
Many people are unaware of their posture and how their physical stance affects how others perceive them. Theatre students learn how a different kind of walk or posture can communicate an entire personality. Charlie Chaplin is among the most memorable masters of physical comedy and subtle choices with body movement. In the era of silent film, he created the lovable Tramp character that was simultaneously relatable and hilarious. Actors learn how to carry themselves in a way that communicates confidence. Employers and managers often look for applicants who are alert and energized, and actors are more aware of their body language and other outward signs of these positive attributes. Over the course of a career, the appearance of openness and friendliness can help with networking and new connections, opening up new opportunities.
Since not all kids are motivated to jump up on stage, technical theatre also provides many ways for introverts to get involved. Lighting and set design can even be lucrative careers in themselves. Stage management allows for a leadership role that emphasizes organizations. Those who start off playing supporting roles backstage often find themselves eventually swept up by the enthusiasm and stretching their own comfort zones in the limelight.
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